Director General of Health Protection Agency (HPA) Maimoona Aboobakuru revised travel restrictions on resorts and liveaboards operating across the country, to facilitate employee movement out of tourist establishments as resorts and vessels approach the end of their 14-day quarantine period.
Speaking at the National Emergency Operations Centre (NEOC) on Wednesday, Minister of Health Abdulla Ameen revealed that resort employees will no longer be required to individually file a special form at HPA requesting authorization for their departure.
Under the new procedure, resorts will effectively be considered open 14 days after the departure of the last checked-in tourist. This week, the government confirmed that over 1000 tourists are still in the country.
According to NEOC's Technical Advisory Group (TAG)'s Chief Dr Ali Latheef, the travel restrictions were classified into three categories;
- Resorts, liveaboards with confirmed cases of COVID-19
- Resorts, liveaboards with no suspected cases, negative or otherwise
- Resorts, liveaboards placed under monitoring with suspected cases tested negative.
According to Dr Latheef, employees from resorts and liveaboards bearing a confirmed infection were required to undergo a 14-day quarantine period in addition to conducting tests before being granted authorization to leave.
Employees at resorts or vessels that fall under the two remaining categories may disembark from the island or vessel following completion of the mandatory 14-day quarantine, post-departure of their final guest.
Moreover, the doctor assured that, should guidelines be adhered to as stipulated, authorities expected no complications to arise as a result of their return.
A travel ban was implemented on March 14 under the state of public health emergency, and was extended liveaboards on March 21.
The measures left resort workers across the archipelago in de facto quarantine for nearly a month and placed them at high risk of contracting the virus from incoming tourists.
Following the government decision to halt issuing on-arrival visas from March 27 onward, workers were permitted to leave their place of employment 14 days following the departure of the last tourist at their respective establishments. In addition to completing a 14-day quarantine, workers were previously required to attain a permit from HPA before leaving resorts or safaris.
Maldives presently records a total of 19 confirmed and six active cases of COVID-19, with a total of 13 recoveries. Four Maldivians remain positive in the country, while two others—one in the UK and another in Malaysia—have tested positive for the virus. Thus far, no local to local transmissions have been recorded.
The World Health Organization has classified the spread of COVID-19 as a global pandemic. The novel coronavirus has infected over 1.5 million people and claimed over 89,877 lives around the world. However, out of those infected, more than 340,176 people have recovered.